The last two years have been a particularly unsettling time in British politics. There have been some major issues to contend with – Brexit, junior doctors, and education. As someone who has chosen to work in the fitness industry because of a belief that staying active and healthy will improve your health outcomes, it can sometimes feel like preventative health is completely missed from the NHS agenda. We know that exercise/physical activity has numerous health benefits. There are many papers written on it; here is one example. We know it, yet, rarely is it prescribed effectively. “For the many, not the few” is a phrase that has been banded around a lot this election, and really, that is what we need to address with exercise. So, read on my manifesto and join me.
As runners, we have a responsibility. We have found a miracle drug, and it is up to us to share it. If each of us got 3 people who are non-runners and don’t to regular exercise to start running and to form it into a habit by the end of the summer, imagine how we could improve the health of our friends and family, and of our community?
Running isn’t the only exercise out there, but it is very accessible, as the only equipment you truly need is what you wear – trainers, sports bra, sports clothing. I used to be with a health insurance provider who would provide you discounts on trainers, and reduce your premiums the more running that you did. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a similar model was applied to the NHS – you could buy your discounted sports equipment as part of the health service, and then the more you used it, the more benefits you would receive of enhanced health, saving the system money, that could then be applied to you enhancing your chosen sport. For example to see a running coach to assess your form, or to pay for a physiotherapy if it was ever needed – allowing runners to address injuries before they come chronic.
I dream of a health fair in each major town once a year, almost like freshers fair at university – you can walk around and learn about all that’s out there to help you be more healthy. Maybe its running, maybe its yoga, maybe its tennis. Let’s make it accessible for all.
I dream of there being an exercise professional in every GP surgery, so that when a doctor says you should do more exercise, there is actually someone there who can assess you, and tell you how to go about it safely.
As a runner, use what you know to inspire your friends. Couch to 5km takes 2 months. Find 3 friends who don’t run yet to take up C25k, and organise a Saturday when the 4 of you can do parkrun together. If not running, perhaps you can find a similar motivation for some other exercise – swimming? Exercise classes, or even regular walking. 3 friends exercising 3 times a week in 3 months time. That’s your challenge!
We know that exercise works as prevention. We know that exercise works as cure. We know that exercise works improving outcomes. Let’s make exercise a bigger part of the Nation’s Health Agenda, for the many, not the few.
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Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.